The Oxford Movement, The Tractarians, liturgical movement, catholic revival. A group of Anglican theologians and philosophers at Oxford University in the 1830s. Their basic position was that the Church of England was becoming a protestant sect, and should be realigned, to become the national church again. They were galvanised into action by the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, which seemed to set the worldwide Catholic Church in opposition to provincial Anglicanism, and a sermon preached by John Keble at St Mary, Oxford, titled 'National Apostasy'. Present on this occasion were several people who would become prominent members of the movement, including Edward Pusey, Hurrel Froude and John Henry Newman. The Movement was formally constituted at a conference at St Mary, Hadleigh in Suffolk, in 1835. The group developed their ideas through a series of almost 100 tracts, hence their alternative name of the Tractarians.
As they developed their philosophy, they increasingly saw the Church of England as a valid part of the worldwide Catholic church, and its identity in terms of its pre-Reformation authority. This led to a renewal of interest in pre-Reformation liturgy, doctrine and practice. Inevitably, many members of the movement left the Church of England, and were received into the Catholic Church, most notably Newman and Manning, both of whom went on to become Cardinals. Keble and Pusey remained Anglicans. This traumatic period in the 1840s is often referred to, in Newman's words, as 'the parting of friends'.
In the second half of the 19th century, the influence of the Oxford Movement was huge, and virtually every Anglican parish church changed from being a 'preaching house' to one where the altar was the focus of worship. Some parishes went further, defining themselves as Anglo-catholic, and evidence of their position survives today in the form of elaborate redecorations.
The trauma resulting from the decision by the CofE in the early 1990s to ordain women as priests in isolation, was sensationally referred to in the press as 'the end of the Oxford Movement'. In fact, their influence on modern Anglican theology remains central, and their greatest legacy is probably Newman's theory of developmental doctrine, which, ironically, has had its greatest influence upon the Roman Catholic Church. Newman is often referred to as 'the father of Vatican II'.